Summer is slowly coming to an end, and as much as we don’t want to admit it, the colder weather will be here sooner than we know it. While we will soon be pulling out our cozy sweaters and fall boots, sipping on warm teas and hearty soups, let’s not forget to make sure our bodies are functioning at their best to stay as healthy as possible. Our immune system is fundamental in defending against harmful pathogens such as bacteria and viruses. If you’re looking for natural ways to improve your immune function, I’ve listed 5 immune-boosting herbs below!
1. Echinacea is a popular herb remedy with immune-enhancing properties, and is best known to treat the common cold and flu. Echinacea is also thought to lower your risk of developing the cold, and even shorten the duration of your cold, by increasing your count of white blood cells used to fight infections. With high levels of antioxidants, this herb has anti-inflammatory properties and therefore may also be taken to reduce inflammation in the body that is associated with chronic diseases. Echinacea’s variety of active compounds make it beneficial to use for several health issues including the treatment of pain, migraines, anxiety, and lowering blood sugar levels.
2. Thyme, a common herb that may be found in your garden or spice drawer, is in fact an antibacterial and antimicrobial herb. It is great for treating a cough and sore throat, and may be taken together with Echinacea for treating the common cold or flu symptoms. Thyme also has beneficial properties of supporting digestion, reducing bloating, and providing you with important minerals such as iron and vitamin K.
3. Elderberry extract has been used medicinally for years to fight infections, boost immunity, heal burns, as well as improve complexion. Today it is mainly used for the common cold and flu because of its antioxidant and antiviral properties. You can often find elderberry extract as a tincture, in lozenges, gummies, or capsules.
4. Wild Cherry is used in small amounts to target the lungs and effectively reduce cough, mucus, pneumonia, and other symptoms of the flu. It’s considered a “respiratory relaxant”, as it provides a heating/cooling feeling, similar to the cherry flavours of cough syrup. Its sedative and bronchodilator effects ease the severity and duration of coughing and opens the airways.
5. Propolis, or bee’s glue, is another amazing immune-boosting compound made by bees when they collect the contents of plants. This substance is antiviral, antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and high in antioxidants. While it is best known for treating cold and flu-related symptoms (including sore throat and sinus pain), propolis is also used for wound healing, burns, acne, and mouth sores or infections. As the beneficial properties of propolis are becoming more well-known and popular, it may be easily found in capsules, throat lozenges, cosmetics, and dental products.
Note: Please make sure to consult your doctor or naturopath before trying any of the above supplements.
In addition, the key to having a healthy immune system is to ensure you have a healthy lifestyle. Following the recommended physical activity guidelines to exercise regularly, eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables, maintaining a healthy weight, reducing your intake of alcohol, not smoking, getting adequate sleep, minimizing stress, and taking steps to reduce infection (ie. washing hands) will help keep your immune system in its best state.